Book Review by Alisa Hyman
Or would he?
It's a startling, yet true statistic: According to an article on cnn.com, 43% of first marriages in the United States end in divorce or separation within 15 years. One in three marriages fails with in ten years. One in five fail within five years. These are some depressing figures. It almost makes one wonder if the time, energy, effort, and expense of marriage are even worth it, considering the fact that it's highly likely the marriage won't survive anyway.
Come on. Don't act like this never crossed your mind. I myself have considered on more than one occasion getting myself a loyal puppy and leaving this marriage business to those helpless romantics who still believe the hype and think that fairy tales can become reality.
Obviously, I'm not the only one with doubts about marriage. This seems to be a popular subject, especially among African-American women. So popular, in fact, that Connie Briscoe made it the subject of her latest book, Sisters and Husbands.
First of all, the title alone suggests that this is gonna be a juicy read full of drama, neck-snapping, eye rolling, and "oh, NO he/ she DIDN'T!!" moments. Something about sisters and husbands just doesn't mix...
The story is based on Beverly, a thirty-nine year old woman who is quickly approaching her wedding date. Beverly was the main character in one of Briscoe's earlier works, Sisters and Lovers. Now, ten years two fianc’es later, Beverly has finally met the man of her dreams. Handsome, successful Julian seems to be everything Beverly has ever wanted in a man, and the fact that he is madly in love with her certainly doesn't hurt matters any. There is no doubt that she has finally found the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with, and she eagerly anticipates the day she is to become his wife.
That is, until the marriages of Beverly's older sisters, Charmaine and Evelyn, seem to fall apart before Beverly's eyes, causing her to doubt herself, her man, and her pending marriage.
Charmaine's husband, Tyrone, is rigid and uncompromising when it comes to his daughter from a previous marriage. When 14-year-old Tiffany comes to visit for the summer, Tyrone is determined to make up for the time he doesn't spend with his daughter by buying her anything she wants and catering to her every whim, even if it means overruling and completely ignoring the wishes of his wife, which creates havoc and chaos in their once peaceful household.
Responsible, reliable, rich Kevin, Evelyn's husband, was once the living definition of the perfect husband, and he and his wife seem to have the perfect marriage. One day, Kevin claims that he and Evelyn have grown apart, and, as a result, he leaves Evelyn abruptly in pursuit of what he calls a ’New Age’ lifestyle- a lifestyle that includes getting rid of his successful law practice, his designer suits, his sprawling mansion, his hair, and his wife and picture-perfect marriage. To add to the drama, Kevin is discovered in the middle of a sexual tryst with no one other than Beverly's best friend and maid of honor, Valerie.
I bet my idea of the loyal puppy sounds really good to you right about now, doesn't it??
During what should be the happiest time in her life, Beverly begins to second-guess her decision to marry Julian. She is forced to take a hard look at the institution of marriage. With so many unions falling apart around her, Beverly begins to doubt that marriage works at all. These doubts threaten to cost Beverly both the wedding and the man of her dreams. Will she get over herself and her fears in time to marry this dream man, or will she, too, begin the hunt for a canine companion?
What I appreciated most about the book was the practicality
of the issues at hand. Briscoe considers real-life situations,
like blended families, mid-life crisis, and the pre-wedding
jitters that many people experience prior to their first
marriage. Nothing seems far-fetched or unrealistic. Nonetheless,
I did find the characters to be kind of on the mawkish side.
Sometimes their emotional reactions to situations made them seem
silly, almost corny and difficult to believe. However, the
page-turning drama and the situations in the novel make this an
easy, fun read. I did find myself pondering the idea and the
institution of marriage. Buried in the drama and the sex and the
fighting and the emotions of this novel are several questions:
Are all people capable of cheating? Is being in love enough?
What makes a marriage last? Although Briscoe doesn't exactly
provide the answers to these questions, she certainly provides
an interesting springboard for discussion in Sisters and
Husbands, which is sure to be a summertime hit.